Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 5, 2009

AN EMBARRASSING ALTERNATIVE.... Thank goodness House Republicans came up with their own health care reform plan. Without it, some may have been tempted to think GOP lawmakers are credible when it comes to the policy debate.

As was quickly apparent, the Republican plan does nothing for the uninsured, nothing for those with pre-existing conditions, and nothing for those worried about losing coverage when it's needed most. It's an entirely partisan plan, written in secret, which ignores Democratic ideas altogether. The GOP proposal seeks to create a system that "works better for people who don't need health care services, and much worse for people who actually are sick or who become sick in the future. It's basically a health un-insurance policy."

Republican lawmakers nevertheless submitted their plan to the Congressional Budget Office for a score. The office released a report (pdf) last night, and it's safe to assume GOP leaders hope no one reads it.

The Republican bill, which has no chance of passage, would extend insurance coverage to about 3 million people by 2019, and would leave about 52 million people uninsured, the budget office said, meaning the proportion of non-elderly Americans with coverage would remain about the same as now, at roughly 83 percent. [...]

According to the report by nonpartisan budget office, the Republican bill would reduce future federal deficits by $68 billion over 10 years, compared to a reduction of $104 billion by the House Democrats' legislation.

So, let me get this straight. The House Republican caucus has been working behind closed doors since June on a health care plan. Five months later, they unveil their plan, and it effectively leaves the broken status quo intact? That's the big GOP health proposal? Largely ignoring the uninsured, neglecting those with pre-existing conditions, and offering deficit reductions that are smaller than the Democrats' plan?

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) said of the GOP plan in a statement, "It will leave 52 million Americans literally out in the cold, does nothing to help low-income and middle-class families afford quality health care, and protects insurance companies' power to deny claims and stand between patients and their doctors. Their bill fundamentally fails to repair our broken health care system."

Now, keep in mind, Republican leaders concede that their approach effectively ignores those who currently lack coverage. As far as the GOP is concerned, helping those with no insurance costs too much, so their plan barely tries to address this aspect of the health care crisis. Instead, they argue, the key to reform is cutting costs, so that's where Republicans focused their energies.

But this is wrong, too. Jonathan Cohn explained this week, "This is a politically clever construction, since it creates a narrative that is both intellectually simple (Democrats focus on coverage, Republicans focus on costs) and consistent with preconceptions about the parties (Democrats want to help the poor, Republicans want to help everybody else). But it's not actually true. President Obama and his allies have made controlling costs a top priority of health care reform ... and the bills moving through Congress show it."

I expected a bad Republican plan, but this is even worse than I imagined.

In terms of getting the word out, however, the public will probably not hear much about the GOP proposal. Democrats are largely focused on passing their own bill, and the media realizes that the Republican plan has no chance at becoming law.

But that's a shame -- the public should realize that there are two competing approaches to the same problem here, and one of the two is ridiculous. The White House is trying to shine a light on the GOP plan, and here's hoping that some of the major outlets notice.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

The details don't matter, you know.

Have you seen how the media is spinning Tuesday's election? VA, NJ TURN RED! Somehow, NY-23, before Tuesday the most important congressional election evah, after Tuesday becomes, meh, no story to see here, move on.

Today the Boston Globe has a piece about how turned off people are by health care reform -- just like '94!

We're surely the only country where trying to help its citizens is reviled by a vocal percentage of same, hellbent to lie to confuse those who pay no attn (that would be, you know, 90 percent of the electorate).

And their message is actively aided by a supine, stupid media.

It's sickening.

Posted by: zhak on November 5, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

In the Republican's Church of Reaganonmics, "tort reform" is becoming the third magic bullet that will solve all the problems of the country. Everthing from uninsured Americans to the mortgage meltdown to the heartbreak of psoriasis will be solved if we just deregulate the free market, cut the taxes of millionaires and make it impossible for working people and the poor to sue corporations.

I wish there was a journalist (or a Democrat) who will ask the Republicans why, since they're such fans of the death penalty, do they trust juries to take away a man's life but they don't trust them to take away a corporation's profits.


Posted by: SteveT on November 5, 2009 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

"the Republican bill would reduce future federal deficits by $68 billion over 10 years, compared to a reduction of $104 billion by the House Democrats' legislation."

"As far as the GOP is concerned, helping those with no insurance costs too much, ..."

hmmm... I'm having trouble connecting the dots, here.

Posted by: Marko on November 5, 2009 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Now, now--the Republican's plan is a joke that would indeed be terribly embarrassing for the party if it received wider recognition.

But that would simply be playing into the well-known liberal bias of reality, and we can't have that. So, the media will do its utmost to avoid even mentioning that the GOP plan exists.

Who could have guessed that the Republican Healthcare Reform proposal would have a liberal bias?

Posted by: Domage on November 5, 2009 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

"In terms of getting the word out, however, the public will probably not hear much about the GOP proposal."

Sure they will. Fox will have this "savior" bill up for weeks telling the Repugs that it does everything they would ever want for far less money. Then, the MSM will follow their lead as always. Throw in a few "Obama wants to kill your grandmother" stories - and that will be the new CW.

Posted by: Mark-NC on November 5, 2009 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Steve writes:" and here's hoping that some of the major outlets notice."

Are you kidding? Remind me; who owns those 'major outlets'?

-besides, there's a Missing Blonde that desperately needs 24/7 coverage. . .

Posted by: DAY on November 5, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

The headline would then be: Republicans prepared to pay $36 billion to keep the status quo.

Posted by: Lars on November 5, 2009 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

Don't get sick. Die quickly.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 5, 2009 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

If the dems think the Republican plan is so bad, why don't they offer constructive ideas on how it could be improved?

Posted by: Al on November 5, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Contrarian is fine and dandy
but sociopaths are quicker
Flatter all luddites from here to Costa Rica , or ,
All the way to Jupiter and Mars
Ain't nobodies business but your own
So fly into the moon
the crater you are is
the crater you will be
No crater sacrifice , etc ...

Posted by: FRP on November 5, 2009 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

That the corporate media will not play (or downplay) the rethugnican health care reform plan is not even worth repeating.

Besides that, it is now official that Obama suffered a massive repudiation on Tuesday and the democrats are in trouble for next year. It is official because David Broeder says so! And to prove his point, he quotes 1 blue dog dumbocrap and a whole bunch of rethugs.

Why should the corporate media talk about the rethug plan when it is now so obvious that the dumbocrats and Obama are failing? After all, that the dumbs added two congressional seats is of no meaning. Only the failure of the highly disliked governor of New Jersey and the failure of the dumb who ran away from Obama in Virginia matter! And they are proof that Obama is a failure.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on November 5, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Note to MoveOn:

"The Republicans have finally released a health care plan. What's the Republican approach? It leaves 52 million Americans uninsured. And according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, its 10-year deficit reduction is less than half that of the Democratic proposal. The Republican alternative to improve the American Health Care System: Less coverage. Less savings. With ideas like that, the best way to improve health care is for Congress to have less Republicans. Vote for real solutions. Vote Democratic."

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 5, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

George Miller (D-Calif.) said of the GOP plan in a statement, "It will leave 52 million Americans literally out in the cold

Yes, but if one stacked 52 million Americans on top of one another, how high would it reach? That's a staggering number worthy of a Republican style graphic to help us rubes "get it".

Posted by: about time on November 5, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

A cadre of elite thinkers , who disguised as irrational and eternally contradictory delinquents , fight a never ending battle against Truth , Justice , and The American Way .
Look ! Up in the scare quotes ! Its "Liberal," a speeding "Far far left," more powerful than a "Fairness Doctrine," Its another republican thumb in the eye .

Posted by: FRP on November 5, 2009 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

ask the Republicans why, since they're such fans of the death penalty, do they trust juries to take away a man's life but they don't trust them to take away a corporation's profits.
--------------------------

Because profits are vital!

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on November 5, 2009 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

here's hoping that some of the major outlets notice

The so-called "liberal media" highlighting the fact that the non-partisan CBO shows the GOP plan to be less effective at both coverage and cost reduction?

Fat chance.

Posted by: Gregory on November 5, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Or..... how many Americans would be left out in the cold everyday, for each day since Jesus was born? Let's see 52 million / 2,009 years = 25,883 people left out in the cold per year, then 25,883 / 365 days = 71 people left out in the cold per day for each day since Jesus was born.

Those are numbers Jesus would be proud of. Well, at least they're numbers Republicans can be proud of.

Posted by: about time on November 5, 2009 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Coburn, who swears he will stop healthcare, apparently is also holding up a bill for Veterans benefits. Typical repug - supporting the troops.

Posted by: JS on November 5, 2009 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Couldn't we get George Soros to create a television network that actually reflects the liberal bias of reality?

Posted by: Coop on November 5, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

What amuses me is that the Republicans and their conservative 'base' have been complaining about the health care reform process not be transparent enough and their not having time to read a 1990 page bill, but they do their reform in secret and spring it out at the last minute?

;-)

Posted by: Lance on November 5, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Steve writes, "In terms of getting the word out, however, the public will probably not hear much about the GOP proposal."

Paging Jon Stewart!!!

Posted by: RR on November 5, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

The Republican bill cuts the deficit by $68 billion by raising taxes $79 billion over ten years. The savings from government restriction of your right to seek redress in the courts (aka tort reform) is $4.1 billion per year. CBO estimates that more young will be insured at lower rates and more older and sicker will be uninsured or pay higher rates.

Posted by: Th on November 5, 2009 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

I want to see ads comparing the relevant stats on both plans. I want to see articles and editorials. It's a matter of balance - whenever you have two plans you have to compare them, right?

Posted by: EL on November 5, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, but if one stacked 52 million Americans on top of one another, how high would it reach? That's a staggering number worthy of a Republican style graphic to help us rubes "get it".

Alternatively, you could calculate how many times you could circle the earth with uninsured Americans laying head-to-toe. Then compare with the Democratic plan.

Posted by: Pee Cee on November 5, 2009 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

"The Republican bill, which has no chance of passage, would extend insurance coverage to about 3 million people by 2019"

When I first read this, I thought it meant that only 3 million would have insurance coverage by 2019.

Posted by: Fraud Guy on November 5, 2009 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes, but if one stacked 52 million Americans on top of one another, how high would it reach? That's a staggering number worthy of a Republican style graphic to help us rubes "get it"."

One adult person with arms out wide covers about 1.5 to 2 m, so 52 million people hand to hand would stretch would stretch 78 to 104 thousand km, or minimally about two times around the earth at the equator.

Posted by: N.Wells on November 5, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

If the 52 million people whom the republiscum would leave uninsured all died, and you buried each one in a grave 2 m by 1.5 m (6.5 ft by 4.9 ft), it would exactly fill all of Washington DC. But it wouldn't really be that bad, because so many of the uninsured are little kids.

Posted by: N.Wells on November 5, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to be a downer, but the truth is that no matter how contemptible the republican's plan is, it does not make the democrat's proposal any better. We are left with health care "reform" that is little more than a massive taxpayer subsidy of the present system, which we all agree is hopelessly unsustainable. When Barack Obama said we ought to build on the present system, there were basically two things we could have done. We could have expanded medicare and medicaid - certainly a signifigant part of the "present system" - or we could subsidize the private sector, as apparently we have chosen to do. It's difficult to imagine that republicans, were they in power and therefore having to put forth realistic ideas, would have done much differently.

The current democratic proposal looks good only in relation to the republican's latest offering, and maybe thats the point.

Posted by: Jason on November 5, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

"If the dems think the Republican plan is so bad, why don't they offer constructive ideas on how it could be improved?"

Al, you may not have noticed, but the Democrats already have a bill that does just that.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on November 5, 2009 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK
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